Community mental health programs bracing for cuts

by Brendan Kinney, TV 7 & 4 News


WEXFORD COUNTY — Cuts in funding are coming to community mental health programs throughout Michigan.

At least 54 percent of the general fund budget will be cut, and the impact could spread to those who use the program.

An expansion to Medicaid in Michigan, named the Healthy Michigan program, is meant to help the uninsured or underinsured.

“It will create access to health care, physical health care, mental health care for many people that we serve that have gone without that type of care for a long time,” said Greg Paffhouse, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health CEO.

A cut in funding may put some services in jeopardy at community mental health programs.

“The state of Michigan when they developed its budget and they developed this plan to create Healthy Michigan, one source of funding to use to match the federal dollars are the state general fund dollars that will match the federal Medicaid dollars.”

Community mental health directors knew money would be cut from the budget, but did not know exactly how much it would affect their programs.

In the next six months the general fund for Northern Lakes Community Mental Health is expected to fall from 4.9 million dollars to 3.7 million dollars.

“There’s people we serve and there’s services we provide that this new Healthy Michigan won’t pay for and Medicaid won’t pay for so we want to make sure that we can at least break even in terms of the state general fund dollars.”

Paffhouse expects this cut could affect up to 1,200 people in their six county region including Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon and Wexford counties.

As enrollment for Healthy Michigan gets underway he wants those with questions to reach out.

“We certainly do not want to abandon people in this process so we would encourage people to make contact with us; we would encourage people to apply.”

Enrollment for the Healthy Michigan program starts Tuesday.

Most people who have the Healthy Michigan plan must be enrolled in another health insurance plan.